Minamata, Japan

What is going on?

In the 1950`s there was as small fishing village in Minamata, Japan. It was a poor village where their whole life was involved with the ocean and the creatures that lived in it. An industrial plant plant, owned by the Chisso Corporation, was built up stream of the small town. This plastics plant brought wealth so extravagant that it has never been seen in these lands. All was well until one day people of this village started to have strange things happen to them.

The citizens of Minamata started to have problems controlling their bodies. There were men, women, and children yelled uncontrollably in the streets, lost their ability to speak, and lost control of their limbs. This would go on till they would drop dead a couple of days later. This did not only affect humans, cats were also "dancing" in the streets. They would lose all control of their body till they would soon fall asleep forever.

Start this video at 1:50 to see what was happening to these unfortunate people. Mute the video.

DO NOT USE THE INTERNET IN ANYWAY! I want the class to brainstorm what could be happening to the people of Minamata. Think about the following things:

  • What is affecting the population?
  • How is it affecting not only humans but animals?
  • How/what would you test to see if your hypothesis is correct?
  • What else could be contaminated?
  • What part of the body is this affecting?

I want as many ideas as possible! This is a brainstorm so the point of this is to come up with as many ideas as possible. We will conduct an investigation as a whole class. Good Luck!!!

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